Monday, December 12, 2011

XTERRA 15k ~ Last RR of 2011

One of my favorite races was yesterday... the XTERRA Crystal Cove 15k, part of their So Cal Series. This was my third time doing the race; although this year was an entirely new course. Thankfully I got the memo on that a couple months ago so I knew well what the new route entailed. It's hard to say if it's easier or harder than the past, but overall, I'd say the new route is harder. Just as much elevation gain (1500ft) in a shorter distance and crazier hills with grades that are so steep I have to walk -- which isn't the case on the old route -- and there are more technical parts like climbing pure rocks and navigating narrow single track. That said, mile 1 and the last 4ish miles on new route aren't so bad (tough but not death) so you can make up some lost time. For those familiar with the old route, mile 1 is NOT easy and part of the last miles have some big rollers to get over

My goal for yesterday's race was to do it in 1:20 +/- 2 minutes. Predicting time based on results from past years wasn't doable due to different courses/distances, not to mention it's hard to set specific goal times on a trail race because you can't really predict your mile splits as well. What I did know was my fastest hard training run on the new course was in 1:24. So, I assumed I could shave off a few minutes if I dug deep and let that HR average to be north of 170.

I also wanted to get an AG win because that's what I did the past two times I did this race. Had to keep that streak alive :)

So a quick recap on my race: It was a blast in that crazy sadistic pain sort of way. I was well warmed up and started off hard but not too hard, i.e. I would have liked to have stayed with the top ladies but there were some fast ones (including my girl Marta!) who's paces I could not match, and I had to race my race (can't fake fitness as someone wise once said hehe). I still stayed in the top-10 range and focused on controlling the controllables.

Most the elevation gain is in the first half of the race starting at mile 2. My body felt strong and well-prepared for the 9.5 hilly, rocky miles, but I was still huffin and puffin. Some of the hills were just killin' me and I hammered up with my best effort but I didn't have that extra gear to climb them as fast as I wanted. (Time to get very specific with hill training going into 2012, right Lucho?)

All that hill climbing climaxes at mile 4.5, when you hit The Elevator, aka "the wall." First you must go descend down a steep-ass section before going up. I'm pretty sure not a single person was able to run up The Elevator (I asked around after). It's pretty insane, a wall indeed. Oddly, that was my favorite part of the race. I knew what to expect and seeing everyone else suffering up the hill with me was fun. Even walking up it I think my HR was in the mid-high 160s.

After that the uphill grades are more manageable and I picked up the pace through the finish. At mile 5, after being around dudes the whole time, I finally caught and passed a couple girls. Nearing the finish and upon the final decent I saw that my goal time of 1:20 was close but I'd need to pick it up. My last 2+ miles were in the 6's (thank goodness for downhill lol) but it wasn't enough. Finished in 1:21 and change.

That finish was definite PR for me on the new route and in the race, and it got me 1st AG -- kept the streak alive. Sweet. I also got 8th female overall out of ?

Here's the course profile. Note that middle dip/incline, that's The Elevator.

So that does it for 2011. Ending the year with a fun, great, hard effort at my favorite local running race was definitely awesome. I got a lot done in '11, and I'm looking forward to even more in '12!

How about some pics...

Marta, Mom and Me -- all podiumed and PR'd! Marta even got an overall podium, girl has gotten fast :)
Bonus: The one and only ER came out to play and podiumed with me! She had a great race and is definitely making a stellar comeback into sport!
High five friend!
And of course my favorite sherpa was there. He's coming off his big 25-hour race car race from last weekend and wasn't up to racing again just yet... so instead he read "I'm Here to Win" while we were running and was on camera duty:)